New documents from an internal probe into the fatal shooting of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor last year in Louisville, Kentucky, now show that the officers who carried out the no-knock warrant shouldn’t have fired their weapons on the night of March 13, 2020, killing Taylor in her apartment hallway that led to her front door.
ABC News and other outlets reported that Sgt. Andrew Meyer of the Louisville Metro Police Department Professional Standards Unit determined in a preliminary report that the three officers, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and former police officers Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove, who were terminated back in June 2020 and January 2021, respectively, should have held their fire after Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shot Sgt. Mattingly in the leg as the officers breached the apartment front door. The PSU findings are now subject to open records law requests because the investigation into the case is complete.
“They took a total of thirty-two shots when the provided circumstances made it unsafe to take a single shot,” Meyer’s report said. “This is how the wrong person was shot and killed.”
Meyer also found that the three men violated the department’s use-of-force policy by ignoring the significant risk of hitting someone who did not pose a threat. The report stated that the deadly force should only have been used against Walker as he posed as a deadly threat after firing one shot at the officers who stormed into Taylor’s apartment to serve the warrant.
Mattingly “should not have taken the shot” because Walker — who was legally permitted to carry a gun — wasn’t a clear target after he ducked from the dim hallway back into bedroom after firing his shot, Meyer found. He added, “Ms. Taylor’s safety should be have been considered before he [Mattingly] returned fire.”
Meyer’s findings were overruled by former interim Louisville Police Chief Yvette Gentry, who found that Mattingly and the other two officers were justified in using force during the encounter.
“Sergeant Mattingly’s actions therefore need to be examined through the lens of what he reasonably believed at the time he discharged his weapon at an identified threat, at the end of a dimly lit hallway, after being shot himself,” Gentry wrote last year.
Still, Meyer’s findings negate remarks made by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who stated that Cosgrove and Mattingly were justified in the force they used, citing Walker firing the first shot.
The attorney for Taylor’s family, Lonita Baker, commented on the latest findings stating, “Had the officers did as they were trained, they would have retreated. According to this investigator, it didn’t justify any shots because they couldn’t assess the threat.”
She continued, “It’s disappointing that Chief Gentry went against the recommendation of the investigators. Only she knows the reason that she did that.”
On Friday, May 7, Gentry defended her decision, saying, “I fired people that some believe should have been suspended. I reprimanded people some people (said) should have been exonerated and I overturned what was believed was not appropriate for the situation.” She added, “I still believe in my soul Breonna Taylor should be alive.” Gentry retired in January.